Arsalan Kazemi was selected with the 54th pick in the NBA Draft Thursday becoming the first Iranian-born player to be drafted. After a trade, the Duck forward is now the property of the 76ers.
Two other Duck hopefuls, guard E.J. Singler and center Tony Woods’ went undrafted although Singler was invited to the Trail Blazers’ summer league team in Las Vegas.
The Sixers were one of the most active teams in a night that was a rollercoaster. The Sixers traded away All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans for Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel, along with a 2014 protected first round pick. They also picked up high-powered Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams with the 11th pick of the draft.
Oregon basketball fans will miss Kazemi who became a fan favorite in his one season in Eugene. After transferring from Rice for his senior year, Kazemi averaged 9.4 points and 10 rebounds along with shooting nearly 60% from the field. His ability to feast on rebounds figures to earn a roster slot, while also providing energetic defense off the bench.
The addition of Noel and Kazemi probably indicates the end of the Andrew Bynum saga. Acquired in a four team trade from the Lakers last season, Bynum missed the entire 2012-13 year with knee surgeries. Bynum becomes an unrestricted free agent next week and is unlikely to be re-signed by the Sixers.
As the rebuilding process begins in Philadelphia, the size and defensive presence of Kazemi and Noel in the paint can define an entirely new character for the team. Expect Kazemi to get playing time off the bench and show Sixers fans why his relentlessness for rebounding was worth the 54th pick.